The Difference between Building Regulations and Planning Permission
People unfamiliar with the process involved in building a house extension or new family home can be confused about the difference between planning permission which is granted by the local planning authority (ie the local Council), and Building Regulation details and drawings that we provide to either the local authority’s Building Control department or to an ‘Approved Inspector’ working for a private organisation.
Building Regulations are minimum standards for design, construction and alterations to virtually every building, both domestic (residential) and commercial. They also include requirements to ensure that fuel and power is conserved and, for new build houses, facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside buildings.
Planning permission is concerned about external appearance including siting, size, use, context, access and compliance with the local plan and national planning policy. Building Regulations are developed by the government and approved by Parliament and are the same standard or specification throughout England. Whereas planning permission can be subjective, the decision as to whether or not the Building Regulations’ requirements are achieved is far more objective.
It makes sense to have a full set of architectural drawings drawn up for your new project and any necessary planning permission granted before you think about obtaining Building Control approval for the Building Regulation details provided by your architectural designer. This means that any fine-tuning required by the planning authority can be incorporated within the Building Regulations details and removes the need for subsequent amendments to the drawings. For further information or advice, please get in touch with our friendly, professional team today!
What are Building Regulations?
The Building Regulations are very detailed and set out the minimum standards that a building project must achieve. Your work will have to comply with the specifications contained within these documents or it will not be signed off by Building Control.
- Part A – Structure
- Part B – Fire Safety
- Part C – Site preparation and resistance to contaminates and moisture
- Part D – Toxic Substances
- Part E – Resistance to the passage of sound
- Part F – Ventilation
- Part G – Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency
- Part H – Drainage and Waste Disposal
- Part J – Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems
- Part K – Protection from falling, collision and impact
- Part L – Conservation of fuel and power
- Part M – Access to and use of buildings
- Part N – Glazing Safety (Withdrawn)
- Part P – Electrical Safety
- Part Q – Security
- Part R – Physical infrastructure for high speed electronic communications networks.
- Regulation 7 – Materials and workmanship
Our Building Regulations Service package includes technical section drawings and other specification details that are required for your project to ensure it is compliant with the Building Regulations standards. A structural engineer will need to be engaged to provide structural calculations and structural drawings, which we will forward as part of the Building Regulations application. These will be checked and approved by the local authority’s Building Control department prior to construction starting so the builder has an accurate and comprehensive set of documents he can refer to that sets out the material specifications and construction methods as required under the Building Regulations.
Once construction commences, the builder will notify Building Control and a building inspector will be appointed to visit the site. All being well, you will receive a completion certificate from Building Control once the work is finished to certify that the work has been inspected at key stages and found to be in compliance with Building Regulations. This certificate will be used to show prospective purchasers and mortgage providers that the work was carried out and completed satisfactorily.
When does Building Work Need to Comply with Building Regulations?
All new houses and house extensions as well as new structural work or alterations to a residential property need to be completed in compliance with Building Regulations and require inspection and approval from Building Control. Some kinds of building projects such as a small detached garage of a usable floor space of less than 50m2 do not need to comply with the Building Regulations although electrical work will need to be carried out by a ‘Part P’ qualified electrician.
An outhouse or separate structure such as a garden office room or a detached garage/workshop that is likely to be used for occasional overnight sleeping would come under the jurisdiction of Building Control.
If your building work consists only of the installation of certain types of services or fittings (eg some types of drainage, fuel burning appliances, replacement windows, WCs, electrical installations and showers) you can employ an installer who is registered to self-certify the work as part of a ‘competent persons’ scheme. This means you will not need to separately apply for Building Regulations approval.
In general, the projects in which we are involved need to comply with Building Regulations and require inspections at key stages by a building inspector.
In summary, the following types of project amount to ‘building work’:
- The erection or extension of a building
- The installation or extension of a service or fitting which is controlled under the regulations
- An alteration project involving work which will temporarily or permanently affect the ongoing compliance of the building, service or fitting with the requirements relating to structure, fire, or access to and use of buildings
- The insertion of insulation into a cavity wall
- The underpinning of the foundations of a building
- Work affecting the thermal elements, energy status or energy performance of a building.
There is more information about Building Regulations on the Planning Portal and for any queries you may have, give us a call or email and we will be happy to help.
What can you expect from Ecclesall Design?
We provide scaled architectural drawings of floor plans and elevations and site and location plans as part of the Building Regulations details we supply. The design drawings will usually have been subjected to scrutiny by the local planning authority in order to ascertain whether or not planning permission is required or if a lawful development certificate is to be issued to confirm the proposed work is permitted development. As part of the Building Regulations application all necessary dimensions are added to the drawings to assist the builder in the construction process.
Whilst preparing the Building Regulation details we consider each aspect of the proposed work and specify the materials that need to be used and in what way they are to be fitted. Every stage of the construction process is looked at from the depth of excavation for the foundations to the thickness and type of insulation, the density of the blocks, the width of the wall cavity, the height of handrail on stairs, the wattage for external light fittings and the diameter of rainwater downpipes.
We also provide technical drawings in the form of construction section details. These show the building inspector and builder how certain construction stages and elements are to be carried out in order to comply with Building Regulations.
We send the Building Regulations drawings and details to the local authority Building Control department for checking and approval. The drainage drawing will be forwarded to the local water authority for their comments and approval. Once Building Control has looked at the details a building inspector will advice what calculations need to be provided by a structural engineer. We can help a client to find a suitable structural engineer at this point. An energy assessor will sometimes need to be engaged to provide SAP calcs if there is an ‘excessive’ amount of glazing; we can advise about this if the need arises.
Once construction work commences we are available to provide advice to the builder on any building regulation query.
What is the difference between the local authority Building Control department and an independent building control company?
The Council’s Building Control department is local government. It provides a plans’ checking service that is unavailable from an Approved Inspector at an independent building control organisation. The approved set is presented to the builder with all details checked. The structural engineer’s calculations are also checked by the local authority’s own structural engineer whereas, if an Approved Inspector is used, the engineer’s calculations are presumed to be correct having been checked by the engineer themselves.
A builder choosing an Approved Inspector instead of the local authority’s Building Control will be building ‘on an Initial Notice’. They will be able to do this after the applicant and Approved Inspector jointly give notice to the local authority that construction is about to start. The builder will not have a set of approved drawings and other details to work to so will not have a full specification of the methods and materials that should be used to comply with the Building Regulation standards; he will rely on his own knowledge and previous experience.
We always recommend that Building Regulation drawings and details be prepared so they can be checked by the local authority’s Building Control department. This ensures that the builder has clear and approved instructions prior to the construction process commences and has a set of documents to refer to in the event of any uncertainty.
For free, expert advice get in touch today and our team will be able to advise you further.
Understanding a Building Regulations application
Once it has been established that an application needs to be made to a Building Control Body (BCB) there are three main types of application:
Full Plans Application
This is the most thorough option; the application is made to the local authority Building Control department and the drainage drawing passed to the local water authority for comments. The decision on whether the drawings and other details meet Building Regulations can be expected within 5 weeks.
Structural calculations will be supplied by a structural engineer (to be appointed by the client, though we can help with the selection process) and checked by the local authority.
A completion certificate will be issued within 8 weeks of completion of the approved building work as long as it complies with Building Regulations. A full plans application can apply to any type of building work but must always be submitted for works including buildings covered under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Building Notice Application
This type of application is only for smaller projects. This route can be followed with the local authority and also with an Approved inspector. Work can start 2 days after a notice has been submitted to the local authority. There is no formal approval in this case from the local authority Building Control department as there is with a full plans application nor is this service available from the Approved Inspector.
Structural calculations will again be supplied by a structural engineer (to be appointed by the client, though we can help with the selection process). The calculations will not in this case be checked by a third party.
A completion certificate will be issued within 8 weeks of completion of the approved building work as long as it complies with Building Regulations.
This type of application is for retrospective approval for work already carried out without consent – from a local authority Building Control department only. We generally come across this with people with existing loft conversions who are having difficulty selling their property without a Building Regulations certificate. The work will be assessed against the Regulations in force at the time the work was carried out, not as per the current standards.
What part does the builder take in Building Regulations?
A builder using technical section drawings and Building Regulation notes supplied by Ecclesall Design and approved by the local authority Building Control inspector will have a full set of information to refer to in case of a query about a particular aspect of the construction process. The structural engineer’s calculations will also be approved by the Council’s own checking service thus allowing for the ordering of steel beams or the forming of structural openings within existing walls to take place with confidence.
If the builder is building ‘on a notice’ he will rely on his own knowledge and experience to construct the project to current Building Regulation standards.
Once construction commences the builder will notify the building inspector of required visits to site; the client would not usually be involved in this process.